Cannabis Knowledge & Insights

Pasadena Cannabis Licensing

The City of Pasadena recently held their Commercial Cannabis Application Workshop last Tuesday, November 13, 2018 and comprehensively addressed all aspects of their application, including zoning, scoring, and application requirements. The City will be releasing their application to the public on December 14, 2018, through their website.

At the workshop, city officials highlighted the fact that the application process will begin with reviewing Operators. Unlike most cities, who require locations for their facilities, Pasadena will vet operators before moving them onto Phase 2, which is when an operator declares a location, acquires the necessary conditional use permits, enters into a development agreement with the City, and is then issued a commercial cannabis permit. The City will be using a merit-based approach in selecting which applicants will have the opportunity to pursue permits. Questions will be received and addressed via email only until December 7, 2018.

The exact date for the opening of submissions is tentatively set for January 1, 2019, and will remain open until January 31, 2019. These dates could change and any updates to the schedule of release of the application, as well as the submission window, will be reflected on the City’s website.

Pasadena will only be issuing, at most, six (6) Retail permits (storefront and delivery), four (4) cultivation permits, and four (4) testing permits, for both medical and adult use cannabis facilities. The City may decide not to issue all permits due to their strict distance buffers and zoning. That said, applicants who are given the opportunity to advance into Phase 2, will need to declare a location on a “first come, first served” basis. The location of the facilities will determine how many permits the City will issue.


Pasadena will permit commercial cannabis businesses who offer medical or adult use cannabis and cannabis products for retail sale and delivery. The maximum number of retail permits the City will issue is six (6) and will be permitted to locate their facilities in commercial and industrial zones, specifically CO, CL, CG, CD, and IG. The distance buffers refer to State regulations and a 600 ft. buffer from residential and sensitive use zones, such as schools, daycares, libraries, parks, substance abuse centers, etc. There will also be a 1,000 ft. buffer from other cannabis retailers and cultivators implemented. Operating standards for retailers include a 15,000 SF maximum retailer facility limit, and the usual prohibitions regarding smoking, ingesting, or consumption of cannabis on site. The hours of operation will only be permitted between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., Monday through Sunday, and all entrances should be controlled with a buzz-in system to limit access and/or entry. The City will require retailers to adhere to additional regulations concerning exterior signage, as well as the installation of advanced ventilation systems.


Commercial cannabis cultivation will be permitted in the City, within the CG and IG zones. A 600 ft. buffer from residential and sensitive use zones, such as schools, daycares, libraries, parks, and substance abuse rehabilitation centers will be implemented, as well as a 1,000 ft. buffer from other cannabis retailers and cultivators. Pasadena will be issuing a maximum of four (4) commercial cannabis cultivation permits, in no more than one (1) per council district. Other operating requirements stipulated by the City include a maximum canopy of 30,000 SF and only indoor cultivation will be permitted. No sign of cannabis plants of products should be visible from the facility’s exterior, and the facility should be installed with an advanced ventilation system, implement strictly controlled and managed use of pesticides and fertilizers, and should adhere to additional regulations on exterior signage as directed by City ordinance.


Testing Laboratories for commercial cannabis goods and products will be permitted in the City and must be accredited by an independent accrediting body. These facilities are zoned in districts where laboratories, medical or otherwise, are permitted. The only buffer the City will implement on these facilities is a 500 ft. buffer from cannabis retailers and cultivators. Pasadena will be issuing, at most, four (4) testing permits, with only one (1) facility allowed per council district. Testing laboratories will need to comply with all state-mandated laboratory testing procedures, chain of custody protocols, and the acquisition of cannabis or cannabis products for testing. All batches that do not comply with health and safety standards within the testing facility should be destroyed in compliance with local and state regulations. The city is also requiring that testing facilities install advanced ventilation systems.

Timeline for Permit Acquisition

  • 12/14/18: Notice of 30-day Application Period
  • 1/1/19 – 1/31/19: Initial Application Period
  • 2/1/19 – 2/15/19: Initial Screening of Applications
  • 2/18/19 – 3/31/19: Review and Scoring of Applications
  • 4/15/19: Notification of Top Applicants
  • To Be Determined (TBD): Applicants to Obtain Land Use and Other Approvals, City Business License and Cannabis Permit, State Cannabis License 

The City estimates that approved cannabis business operators could be open for business by December 2019.

How to Submit Applications:


All applications and application fee payments should be submitted through the City’s online submittal portal. There will be a link to the portal’s PayPal feature, where all application fee payments can be made.

How Should Your Application Look Like:

Each Applicant will submit the following:

  1. Completed Applicant/Owner Information Form
    • Includes basic information on the applicant, owners, and non-owners with financial interests.
  2. Cover Letter: not to exceed three (3) pages and will act as the application’s Executive Summary
    • A concise overview of the screening application, including the type of permits being applied for, and the proposed business concept
  3. Applicant’s Business Plan (cannot exceed 50 pages, including text and images)
    • Section 1: Business Plan
    • Section 2: Neighborhood Compatibility and Enhancement Plan
      1. Provide a description of how the business will be compatible with the surrounding neighborhood, in concept, such as design, product and service offerings
    • Section 3: Security Plan
    • Section 4: Qualifications of Owner and Operators

Application Requirements:

Applicants are encouraged to follow the ordering of the application sections listed above. The screening applications should be no longer than 50 pages for each permit type being applied for, and does not include the applicant/owner information forms or the cover letter, which cannot exceed 3 pages. The use of duplicative information throughout the application is discouraged. We do encourage applicants to be as detailed as possible, highlighting only those necessary requirements outlined in the application.

The application should use an 11-point font size and formatted onto an 8.5 x 11 in. document size. Each section should be labeled in the same order as it is shown above. Applications may be submitted between 12 a.m. on January 1, 2019 and 11:59 p.m. on January 31, 2019. No additional points will be given to applicants who submit their applications early.

All applications shall be submitted electronically, through the City’s submittal portal, located on the City’s webpage. PDF documents need to be dragged and dropped into the portal. No registration is required. If more than one (1) PDF file is being submitted, applicants will need to compress the files into a single ZIP file and upload the ZIP file.

Screening Application Fees:

The following Screening Application Fees are due upon submittal and non-refundable:

  1. Retailer: $10,639.00
  2. Cultivation: $10, 639.00
  3. Testing Laboratory: $10, 639.00

If an applicant is applying for more than one (1) permit type, they will need to pay an application for fee for each permit type. The fees are non-refundable because the fees cover the costs of City expenses to prepare and implement the screening application process, and cover the costs of the Selection Committee.

Other Key Information:

Applicants are allowed to submit screening applications for several permit types. However, in the event that the applicant’s application for each permit is accepted, these facilities will not be allowed to be located at the same site.

Applicants cannot be listed as Owners in more than one (1) of the same type of permit. Also, permits are non-transferable. 

In the event that some information regarding this process changes, the City reserves the right to update the information on the City’s cannabis webpage as necessary to resolve any unanticipated issues that may arise before or during the screening period. Any updated information will be noted as “Updated.” Applicants are encouraged to check the City cannabis webpage before submitting their application. 

The City has requested that all questions regarding the process be directed to City staff by emailing Answers to questions received will be posted on the City’s cannabis webpage before January 1, 2019, when the submission period begins.